So, Democrats have retaken the House after eight years roaming the wilderness. Good for you. But with your new powers of oversight, subpoena and investigation and to block Senate legislation, originate revenue bills and initiate impeachment proceedings, there comes a responsibility, if not an actual political strategy: To not let it go to your heads.
Nine years ago, in my first column for The Suncoast News (where did the time go?), I chastised hard-core lefties for their harsh criticism of President Barack Obama because he wasn’t “pure enough.” My worst fear is that they will once again choose to make purity the enemy of the possible.
“What so many on the (far) left refuse to acknowledge is that America is a center-right country; compared to Western Europe and Canada, blatantly imperialistic, insistently religious, fervently anti-socialist and belligerently capitalistic. It’s why Republicans feverishly can play to their base and for the most part not tick-off independents. Democrats don’t have the same luxury. They can’t be as progressive as Republicans can be conservative and still successfully govern.”
It’s one thing to make Medicare-for-all (and other progressive goals like a living wage, strong environmental and workplace protections and free public college tuition) that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum has referred to as his “North Star,” but remember it takes hundreds of years for light from that star to reach the earth.
Not that I’m saying we must wait hundreds of years, but clearly these things cannot be accomplished overnight and secondly, considering the country’s center-right mindset, require the time for education, persuasion and compromise. Instead, Dems must stick with the issues they won on: pre-existing coverage, infrastructure, voting rights, a sane immigration policy and DACA. Baby steps.
In his way Trump will welcome Democratic control of the House as he now will have a foil to blatantly mischaracterize your every action and comment. Show some discipline. Don’t blow it for 2020 by being too strident, obnoxious and overbearing or taking Trump’s bait to engage in fights about bogus caravans, open borders, softness on crime, socialism and his other hysterical distractions. It’s clearly not what voters want and not what got you to the dance.
And for god’s sake please don’t raise the specter of impeachment of the president. Even if it passed the House, there is no way 60 senators will vote to convict. All it will accomplish is to make you look as reckless and vindictive as Trump.
So, leftists, ask yourselves: Do you want legislators and in two years hopefully a president with all the right instincts and credibility trying to straddle the chasm between progressive idealism and centrist reality or Trumpists plundering the country’s resources, exploiting the powerless, strangling the commons and distorting truth and justice?
Many Democrats sat on their hands in 2016 because Hillary had not been sufficiently liberal and unwittingly unleashed Trump Nation. I, for one, never want to have to live in that country ever again.